Global warming could create 63 million migrants in South Asia by 2050

The global climate crisis could see more than 63 million people displaced from their homes within South Asian countries in the next 30 years, according to a new report.

According to a report by ActionAid International and Climate Action Network South Asia, if global warming continues on its current path then the rising seas levels and droughts will force a huge part South Asia population to migrate.

The report released on Friday stated that ecological disasters drive mass migrations and greater armed conflict for this region.

The projection does not include those who will be forced to flee sudden disasters such as floods and cyclones and so is likely an under-estimate, noted Harjeet Singh, global climate lead at ActionAid.

He said the situation could become “catastrophic”.

Many will head from rural areas to towns and cities in their own countries, in search of work, he said.

There they often end up living in slum areas exposed to flooding and with very limited access to social services, doing precarious jobs such as rickshaw-pulling, construction or garment-making.

“Policy makers in the Global North and the Global South are not yet waking up to this reality,” Singh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “They are not realising the scale of the problem, and how we are going to deal with (it).”

He urged rich nations with high planet-warming emissions to redouble efforts to reduce their carbon pollution and provide more funding for South Asian countries to develop cleanly and adapt to conditions on a warming planet.

If governments meet a globally agreed goal to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, the number of people driven to move in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal could be cut almost by half by 2050, the report said.

It builds on research published in 2018 by the World Bank, which said unchecked climate change could cause more than 140 million people to move within their countries’ borders by 2050 in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

The new report, which used an updated version of the same methodology, raises the original 2050 projection for South Asian migration by about half, adding in new data on sea level rise, as well as the effects of ecosystem losses and droughts.

The new report also tracks expected migration on a finer scale.

(With inputs from agencies)


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